It’s a scenario of which came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing began you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not certain which started first.
That’s exactly what scientists are attempting to figure out when it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression. It’s rather well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But it’s much more difficult to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, said another way: They found that you can sometimes identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who goes through a screening for depression may also want to be tested for tinnitus.
Common pathopsychology could be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression may have some shared causes, and that’s why they appear together so often.
Needless to say, more research is needed to determine what that common cause, if there is one, truly is. Because, in certain cases, it might be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; in other situations the reverse is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the link is.
Will I Experience Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?
Major depressive disorders can develop from many causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for many reasons. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the underlying concept is the same. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.
But chronic tinnitus can have more acute causes. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even happen for no tangible reason whatsoever.
So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The wide variety of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks may increase. The following reasons may help make sense of it:
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for many.
- You may wind up socially isolating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have trouble with social communication.
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you take pleasure in, such as reading, difficult.
Treating Your Tinnitus
Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to find relief from one by treating the other. You can lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus utilizing treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.
That won’t stop depression in all cases. But research indicates that managing tinnitus can help.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.
We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this insight is important.